I am struggling with an issue that others may have dealt with. I have posted this in other forum but wanted to cover any areas that may be related. I apologize if you read this on another page.


I'm full blooded Native American. Even though I was born in Los Angeles, I was raised in a tight-knit NDN community. NDN school, church, pow wows, tournaments, etc. I was pretty isolated from other cultures till I was nearly an adolescent.  I was eventually integrated into the public school system but still only socialized with other NDNs. The reason I harp on this point will make sense later in the post. 


During my adolescence, I lived in Oklahoma which is pretty conservative. I was sexually active by the time I was nearly 16 (odd term, sexually active). Anyhow, like most Christians, I had a lot of self-loathing because I was having sex. Granted, I wasn't always having sex for the "right reasons" but that's another story.


I later went to college but it was still an all-NDN school. I didn't finish due to family obligations (I did later at a state school)but right after that, I decided I wanted to break free from "NDN life." Meaning, I wanted to get to know other types of people and I did. I cut myself off from the NDN community and began socializing with other races and ethnicities. It was during this time that I began to question a lot of how I was raised and it included what I realized was a lot of Christian influences. 




Cut to me as an adult, this is post-christianity. It's now been around 10 years since I've been around the NDN community and I'm now very anti-Xtian and am comfortable with my sexuality which I'm a admitted bisexual. So what's the problem? FACEBOOK. 


With FB, I am now connected to a lot of old NDN friends, in particular, many from OK who still hold mostly Christian values. Now here comes the rub, I was raised with utmost respect to my culture. It is very difficult to explain this because people don't understand what respect means in our culture. When I say this, many people are put off because they take it to mean, "It's an NDN thing, you wouldn't understand." We hold a very solemn respect to our traditions and beliefs to which I have no wish to go against as I hold very dear my heritage. 


Being newly connected to old friends, I find myself censoring my comments now more than I did so before. Mostly the ones that reference sexuality. I now think, "cripes, I have family AND NDNs on my list, I can't post this!" The thing is, I'm not sure if it's because I'm afraid of the X-tian upbringing or my NDN culture. I'm not sure if as NDNs we traditionally kept our sexual aspects private or not. But I know X-tianity diseased a lot of native cultures with their unhealthy beliefs. 

I'm very confused. I still want to keep in respect to my culture and have very little regard to offending X-tian thinking but I feel like I'm compromising myself now. 


I realize this is a very long post but I wondered if anyone has similar experiences. 


I'm full-blooded NDN, I am from the Choctaw, Hupa, Yurok, Chickasaw, Chimarigo nations and very proud of my lineage but I want to be true to who I am. 


Can anyone help please?

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Replies to This Discussion

My experiences are very different than yours in a lot of respects. I will say this: NDN is not the same as xian. period. kowtowing to xian Puritanism is not the same as respecting NDN culture. In fact, xian Puritanism is a major factor in the struggles indigenous people face today, all over the world: they colonized our minds. I don't know if you feel strong enough for this, but consider it. As long as you are not honest, you cannot be part of healing that colonization. The discussions we have about these issues can be healing. Do you want to live in chains or do you want your people free? If you censor yourself, you are in chains and nobody grows. I don't mean rub things in people's faces. Nope. I support your struggle and I hope you find strength to do what's good for you.

Well, Facebook has privacy options. If you have the patience to go through your list, create a group called NDN and add anyone that falls into that conservative NDN type of category you don't want to freely share information with. You can choose to exclude this group from seeing specific posts, meaning you can post without restriction and generally not worry about them fussing.

As far as personal experience, I have some sort of. I grew up in a Native American family. I'm not full blooded, but I didn't realize that until I was older. I lived with my father and our culture was deeply Native American, attending powwows and ceremonies and so on. We even held an assembly when I was in second grade in traditional dress because one of my teachers found out about our heritage and asked my dad to do a presentation on our culture (I went to a private Catholic preschool for a year and then to regular public school for the majority of the rest of my time in secondary education).

I didn't actually know that I wasn't fully Native American though, until we took those state tests that ask you to mark your ethnicity, and the teacher (when I asked) told me I should mark 'white', because my skin is white. But my culture wasn't white and I didn't grow up in a white family. We had minimal Christian traditions, because my father identified as a Buddhist with a secular sort of respect for Jesus, not a Christian, since I was born. Any holidays we participated in that were traditionally white were for the step-mother type figures I had who came from Christian families, or for branches of the family that participated in Christianity (not always blood family).

That being said, my father was open toward the idea of me being any religious affiliation I wanted, but he was not open to Atheism. I guess it's a thing, at least an aspect of culture I grew up with, that Native Americans regard themselves as a spiritual people and Atheism seems like a trait for non-spiritual people, although Atheism and 'No spirituality' are not synonymous terms. But at least I grew up with a generally religiously open household that was socially accepting of other groups and believed in equality. Although I'm sure my father would be horrified today that I haven't participated in any aspects of my culture since his death (not really my choice; I lost contact with my Native American brothers and sisters after I was whisked away to my white grandmother's home following the passing) and that I identify as an Atheist.

Like you, I identify as a non-conforming sexuality. I consider myself some type of mix of demisexual, sapiosexual, pansexual, and asexual (that is, I have no preference for gender / sex by itself at all [pan], I'm generally attracted to deep emotional and intellectual connections solely [demi and sapio], but my frequency of attraction and desire for sex are almost non-existent; although my sex drive can be normal when I am attracted, I can easily go years without sexual contact and not think twice about it [a] and pretty much never find myself actively wanting sex with anyone in a way normal people seem to).

But since that's extremely complicated, I simply say I'm bisexual when I'm asked. And when asked why I'm not looking for a partner, I simply say I'm not interested.

My father didn't have a problem with this type of thing, however. He asked me some time before he died (but after I hit puberty) whether I was a lesbian or not. I told him I was also attracted to girls. He said okay. And that was the end of our conversation.

I do find it odd if you're saying that your NDN community is hyper conservative in a way that they're against bisexuality, because from my experience, many Native cultures were accepting of non-conforming sexualities and gender identities prior to the invasion of Europeans. I hope this is a trait purely stemming from their involvement in Christianity (which I find poisonous to Native culture and borderline repulsive that any Native person would find comfort in it; it seems like a slap in our ancestors' faces).


I know this is an old post but it's such an important one. One thing about indigenous folks is that we grow up thinking you can't separate culture from religion as it is intricately interwoven. By the time some of us even figure out we're not buying into the Christianity we think it's too late because because you figure 'how can I still be Native without believing everything I was ever taught?' How do you not except your creation myths? How do you stop giving your tabacco offerings or make up an excuse for why you turned that sweat invitation. I personally didn't know how to do it, I had to kinda learn how to separate the two.

It can be an isolating feeling being made to feel you're invisible because you're a skin but then add religion and sexuality on top of that and you can be made to feel like kind of unicorn or something especially to non-Natives. Christianity teaches heaven or hell, angels or demons, righteousness or indignant so with that all or nothing philosophy there's no room for the bisexual conversation either. So then you find yourself sensoring your speech to accommodate others based off of an ideology that is foreign to us anyway. I struggled with this for years.

I grew up in a heavily devout Catholic Chickasaw family who were as homophobic as the day is long, the kind of family full gays and bisexuals but no one ever came out. The day I spoke out I became ostracized as well. But when I started learning about the roles that "2 spirits" played traditionally within the tribal societies it really changed my perspective to one of pride in our people, colonization is a mother.

When it comes to social media be true to who you are but use discretion, not all messages are for all ears. Even though other groups have modernized in every aspect I think this is still a struggle within the culture but I feel you're already headed in the right direction just by being honest and asking uncomfortable questions, you're very brave.




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